Bisnow reported yesterday that Chase bank closed on its purchase of the historic Neam’s market building. The banking behemoth bought the property for $8.2 million. This news crushed GM’s hopes that since Chase is opening yet another branch at 3140 M St., maybe they weren’t going to go forward with their terrible plans to destroy a historic market building. Goes to show you shouldn’t underestimate how awful mega banks can be!
But it could have been different. Back in 2013, the Citizens Association of Georgetown (including GM) put forward a proposal to ban any new banks in Georgetown. The Georgetown Business Association (a lobbying group of Georgetown businesses, which shouldn’t be confused with the Georgetown Business Improvement District) objected to the proposal and the idea died.
The proposal was put forward as part of the commercial zoning rewrite that the Zoning Commission was conducting. Following the GBA’s objections to an outright ban on banks (existing banks would of course be grandfathered), the discussion turned to a moratorium on new banks. That would require new legislation, and, well, there just wasn’t any appetite for that at the council or the businesses.
Five years later and two invaluable Georgetown properties–the Nathans and Neams market buildings–have been bought by banks to be converted into absolute wastes of retail space.
It bears repeating: Chase is opening two branches in Georgetown. One is one too many, but two is just insulting. For them to buy up a property like the Neam’s building demonstrates how utterly out of touch and thoughtless they are. If you bank with them, you should move you accounts.
Georgetown could have put a halt to the conversion of precious retail buildings into giant bank billboards. But the GBA said no.